Surgeon Lieutenant Colonel William Hamilton Broun (1854–1937)

Broun began life as William Hamilton Briggs, who was born 1854 in Pembrey, Wales. He joined the army medical staff in 1875, serving as a surgeon in India, Afghanistan and Africa. He was employed as personal medical officer to Robert Bourke, 1st Baron Connemara, Governor of Madras 1886-1889.

William Hamilton Broun in India
Group portrait including Lord Connemara and the Viceroy about 1888 (Courtesy of the Royal Collections Trust)

The photograph above is a group portrait of Lord Connemara and the Viceroy, circa 1885. Briggs is listed as one of the sitters (third from the left, behind Captain Henderson). A description of the photograph is

Sir Steuart Bayley (1836-1925); Lady Dufferin; Lord Connemara (1827-1902); The Viceroy of India, Frederick Hamilton, 1st Marquess of Dufferin (1826-1902); Lady Susan Georgiana Bourke, Baroness Connemara (d. 1898); Lady Helen Blackwood and Lady Eva Wyndham Quin. They are amongst thirty-one sitters photographed outside a large house together with officers of the Indian Army.

RAMM would like to thank the Royal Collection Trust for the use of this photograph.

Details of the photograph includes a list of the subjects. Briggs is there, and so too is his future wife Lady Susan Georgiana Bourke (born Broun-Ramsay).

Retirement from the army

Briggs was a witness in the 1890 divorce proceedings of Baron Connemara from his wife Lady Susan Georgina Bourke. This situation forced Briggs to retire from the army. He reinstated in 1893 without loss of rank but retired again later the same year. In 1894, Briggs married Lady Broun and adopted the name of Broun by deed poll.

Lady Broun died in 1898, leaving Broun a substantial amount of money. After the death of his wife, Broun returned to Africa. He seems to have been involved with the Royal Niger Company in Northern Nigeria, 1899. He also travelled to East Africa in 1904, writing an article for the Royal Geographic Society. It is unclear whether these trips were part of employment or if he travelled under his own steam.

Broun returned to London, where the 1911 Census recorded him as living. In 1919, he married his widowed housekeeper, Mrs Margaret Ann McNair. They took several trips together, to Capetown, South Africa; Genoa, Italy and Kingston, Jamaica. In the later years of his life, he was a resident of Teignmouth, Devon and this is where he died in 1937 at the age of 83 years. His wife, Margaret Ann Broun, died in 1948 and bequeathed his collection to Royal Albert Memorial Museum.

Periods of employment and travel

  • Joined medical staff 1875
  • Jowaki Campaign, India 1877-78
  • Second Afghan War, Afghanistan 1878-80
  • Nile Campaign (Gordon Relief Expedition), Egypt and Sudan 1884-85, Abu Klea War, Sudan 1885
  • Personal staff of Governor of Madras, India 1886-1889
  • Initial retirement 1890
  • Reinstatement 1893
  • Second retirement 1893
  • Involvement in Northern Nigeria and British East Africa 1899~1905
  • Temporary employment during WW1 1915-1916
  • Travels with second wife to South Africa, Italy and Jamaica


Broun, W.H. ‘A Journey to the Lorian Swamp.’ in The Geographical Journal, Vol.27, No.1 (Jan., 1906), pp.36-51

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